From soccer to West Lake Landfill: A broad discussion with St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger | St. Louis Public Radio

From soccer to West Lake Landfill: A broad discussion with St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger

Mar 30, 2017

Even though St. Louis County is gearing up for some major votes come April 4, the St. Louis County Executive seat, currently held by Steve Stenger, is not one of the positions up for re-election. Stenger is about two years into his tenure in the position.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, he joined host Don Marsh to discuss his tenure in the position and current initiatives in St. Louis County.

Here’s a smattering of what Stenger discussed …

… on bringing soccer to St. Louis:

“I think it is a fantastic idea. Early on, I met with the executive team, from the soccer proponents in the city, and they did not ask us to participate. It is one of those things where, as the steward of St. Louis county taxpayer dollars, it was not something we offer up, it is something we’d need to be requested for. We were not asked to participate. This wasn’t the type of conversation where there was even any type of hint that we wouldn’t, that we were against the proposal. In fact, I am supportive. I think it is a great idea.

“We talked about a possible practice facility in the county, but it would not include a county vote. It is a county of a million people, and a campaign in the county is much different than in the city, and I think that was part of the calculus as to why they went the route they went.”

… on MetroLink expansion:

“I think initially some segments of the media were looking for a fight there [with Mayor Francis Slay]. In this case, there was really a disagreement as to process … it is certainly not the route. What I have been a proponent of is going through East-West Gateway, the regional transportation arm, and making an enormous regional transportation decision like north side/south side or one of the three or all of the three or two of the three routes from the county. I’m not ruling out north side/south side. I’m just not.

“In fact, one of the routes we proposed is a north/south route in the county and we created an arc route that connects with the city’s north side/south side route, right through Ferguson. That was completely underplayed in the media, but that was a headline generator that Francis and I had a disagreement over the route, which we don’t. I disagreed with the process.”

… on the possibility of city/county consolidation:

“Over time, what we will see is really more and more collaboration and cooperation. We’ve already seen it over the past two years when I’ve been in office. When we’re talking about whether Francis [Slay] and I get along. None of these things would be possible if we didn’t get along. Some of the things we have collaborated on are around our Department of Health and the city’s Department of Health and a whole host of human services from homelessness and STD awareness and services. Those are two very small examples but we do quite a bit together. As far as homelessness goes, we have eight homeless shelters in St. Louis County and three are located in the city and they have joint use. We’re doing quite a bit.

“ … Will that get to a point and when will it happen that there’s some sort of a joining? From the County Executive’s perspective, it has to be a quantitative and qualitative analysis. And it has to be in the best interest of St. Louis County residents and tax payers. We have to think regionally about it as well. There are direct links where collaborations and cooperations enhance the lives of St. Louis Countians. Those have been the things I’ve looked for to collaborate on and cooperate.”

… on the prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP):

“I think all of us have something we can be proud of. We saw a problem, a major health issue in our community, we acted from a local level with an objective of making a statewide impact. Currently, we have about 50 percent of the state’s population covered within our prescription drug monitoring program. It is incredible and it will be up and running in April. It is remarkable to see communities from across the state banded together to get this done. I’m proud of that.”

… on the possibility of working with Lyda Krewson, Democratic candidate for St. Louis mayor:

“I have a nice working relationship with Lyda. We worked on some things, the PDMP bill that the city put forth, we put forth originally. I think you can expect more collaboration from us. I hope that she and I are able to get together and talk about regional solutions to issues that we have.

“It’s certainly a fresh start. I enjoy working with her. We both have similar backgrounds: she’s an accountant, I’m an accountant. We have similar approaches to things. But at the same time, we may disagree from time to time, it may make headlines, but it will not be a situation where we don’t get along. I don’t ever forsee that.”

… on West Lake Landfill:

“My administration has been extraordinarily responsive and proactive. My issue is with the EPA and the way they’ve handled things. It is an extraordinarily slow process. Back in 2014, when I was on the County Council, we passed a resolution at the urging of the local community to transfer jurisdiction to FUSRAP, the Army Corps, for resolution of the issues. When I was a councilmember I was intimately involved with this group and bought a radiation monitor with my own money that is being used today. I’ve written a number of letters to the EPA, to move them along, to get it moved to FUSRAP. We have received responses, the responses have not been what I was looking for, what the community was looking for. Our Department of Health did a respiratory health survey in the area adjacent to the landfill in 2016, there were findings there.

“We’ve done everything we can from the local standpoint. We will continue to do as much as is humanly possible. We have limited jurisdiction over the site. The County does not have the types of resources needed to remedy the situation. Frankly, it is a multi-billion dollar solution. Only the federal government has those kind of resources.”  

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.